Who would’ve thought there would be such a thing as ageism? Who even comes up with these words anyway? Call it what you like, but it certainly is for real. Age discrimination at the workplace and how baby-boomers deal with it has become a pretty hot topic in recent years.
With seniors living much longer than past generations, there are simply more of them working longer these days. Who says you can’t have the mental and physical capacity as a 70-year-old to do the same job you were doing when you were 40? The very fact that seniors are still working well past the standard retirement age should speak for itself.
SENIORS HAVE TO TRY HARDER
They shouldn’t have to, but much like a female in an almost all-male work environment, the way for seniors to silence the critics is to prove their continuing capability through their performance on the job.
It doesn’t seem fair, but sometimes in order to quell the discrimination, you have to do more than anyone else in order to prove you are more than capable of performing your work duties at your current age.
Certainly, it shouldn’t be that way because what usually happens is that a senior is doing more work than someone younger for the same rate of pay.
TOO OLD TO HIRE
Discrimination is more likely to become a concern if a senior is looking for a job. At least if you grow old on the job you began at a much younger age you have your foot in the door. It’s much harder to just terminate a person because of their age if they are still doing the job as well as ever.
A senior who is looking for work is up against it from the very beginning. That millennial from Human Resources might never get past the age written on the application form. Chances are the application will be summarily dismissed without even looking at the list of qualifications that can be very impressive for many seniors.
Even if a senior has been on the job for a long time there’s a good chance that the older they get the more their work will be scrutinized. It’s almost as if there are those just waiting for them to slip up so they can blame it on their age.
Many seniors are passed over when promotions become available in their workplace. If an assignment is demanding the powers that be will most likely give it to someone younger, assuming that it will be way too hard for the senior to handle. At what point do employers think seniors begin the downslide?
Does it magically happen when they are 50 or 55? Does it happen when they let 65 come and go and continue to work instead of retiring? What magical age exists that pronounces a senior unfit to do the job?
THE ECONOMY AND IT’S IMPACT
If the economy sucks, chances are a senior will have an even tougher time finding a job. Even those companies who might’ve taken a chance on a senior will think twice. They perceive seniors as being in a decline mentally and physically without even giving them an opportunity at an interview.
That in itself is blatant discrimination.
This line of reasoning can have a serious impact on seniors’ quality of life. They are looking for a job for a reason and not being able to find one can have a huge negative impact on their way of life.
Possibly they just want to work to help pay the bills or supplement their retirement income. What recourse do they have if employment opportunities are few and far between because they are seniors?
Basically, they become wards of the state. In other words, they might need government assistance to help them survive even though they are perfectly willing and able to work.
Nobody wins in that scenario. The senior has to count on the government, tax dollars are wasted unnecessarily, and an employer is missing out on an employee who was perfectly able to work and in most cases has decades of experience to bring to the table.
Seniors who are having a difficult time meeting ends meet might consider internet marketing. However, caution is important as not all marketing opportunities are what they seem.
Reading the e-book All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin would be a big help for seniors who want to be better informed about the world of internet marketing.
KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE GOING TO WASTE
By choosing younger employees to hire or letting senior employees go, an employer is robbing himself of a valuable resource. It’s very true that experience is the best teacher and having senior employees teach and guide younger ones seems like an excellent opportunity.
Even in the event seniors are not as strong as they used to be physically, their mental acuity is most likely as sharp as ever. A smart employer would put them in a teaching role instead of summarily dismissing them.
When you consider how much has gone into training a senior over the years, it seems like a much too valuable resource to ignore, but companies do it all the time.
IF YOU THINK YOU’RE OLD, YOU ARE
Many seniors are their own worst enemy. It starts out innocently enough. We turn the dreaded forty-years-old and we are convinced by all the “getting old” rhetoric that we’re on the downslide.
We spend the next 25 years telling ourselves that we are getting old and continually try to hide our age from the rest of the world. When we retire at 65, we have arrived. We listen to all the old jokes and even tell anyone who will listen that we are old fools.
Maybe we hold off on getting glasses because many see it as a sign of getting old. Early morning when the drugstore or supermarket first opens is the opportune time to sneak in and buy some Grecian Formula to dye out those first gray hairs that see the light of day.
Some people are quick to point out others that are older than they are. They get impatient with people older than them who are too slow at doing things. They drive too slow, get out their money too slow, and forget their debit card passwords. In some convoluted way, they feel younger by being impatient with someone older.
Laura Ingalls Wilder published the first book in her “Little House” series Little House in the Big Woods when she was 65 years of age. She finished her last book when she was 76.
BE PROUD OF BEING A SENIOR
Senior is not a dirty word. Some people don’t like to be labeled as a senior, but it doesn’t have to be taken in the context of being old.
I am reminded of that almost weekly when I do book-signings for my book Seniors On the Move.
Some people will come right out and say they don’t like being thought of as a senior. And I try to convince them that it’s not a dirty word.
It’s like a senior in high school. They are looked up to by younger kids because they have been around longer, learned more, and are more mature. They are respected. When younger students are stuck, they might ask one of the seniors for help or advice because they see them as someone who has more experience than they do.
How is that any different from someone who is 60 or 70 or 80? They have been around longer, learned more, and are more mature, and they should be respected, but many times are not. Younger people should look to them for advice, but many don’t. They see them as old because that is what has been pounded into their brains everywhere they turn.
If someone is 70 or 80 years old or more, they should be proud of the fact. The world is a challenging place and they have made it for the better part of a century despite the adversity that comes with everyday life.
That’s saying something.
AGE-DISCRIMINATION IS EVERYWHERE
Age discrimination at the workplace and how baby boomers deal with it is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s not just in the workplace. Age discrimination is everywhere and it’s time to realize just how valuable seniors are to future generations.
Somebody has to instill the same work ethic in today’s youth that most of today’s seniors grew up with. Because let’s face it, today’s youth are born into a world of high tech and are already used to doing things the easy way.
Why learn how to give change for a twenty-dollar bill when a machine will do it for you? Why study when all the answers are on the internet? Why talk to someone face-to-face when you can just text them?
The world is a better place because of seniors. The way things are going in most countries with people living longer and fewer children being born, soon there will be more people over 50 than under 50. That’s already true in Japan.
Better get used to us. We’re here to stay. By the way, I’m almost 71 and still work at a demanding physical job. If the young guys would only try harder they would be able to keep up with me, but I’m not counting on it.
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